When we first started our food business, we started by selling online. Rather than listing ourselves on a marketplace, what we did was we opened social media accounts for our business and just did random posts. Orders started to come in and we thought, hey! We’re on to something!
A month later, we got our first gig. We opened up a pop-up dumplings stand at a state-run marathon event. It was our first time selling to our customers face-to-face and the experience was nerve-wrecking. Honestly, we weren’t really the sales & marketing type and boy did we struggle.
Did that experience stop us? Not at all! Not long after, we joined a couple of pasar malam (night market) and pasar tani (farmer’s market). The pasar malam ran at night (obviously) and the pasar tani was in the morning. It was probably about a couple of months down the road when we eventually got our place at Arked Angkasa, UTM Skudai. We ran our business there for about 2 years and Covid-19 happened.
That was when we made the decision to pivot our business model and go back to selling online, albeit in a more effective and organised manner. Alhamdulillah, the business has been doing well and we’re still going strong.
The question now is would we go back to our place at UTM? Well, we’re fiddling with the idea. But since the students aren’t back yet, there’s still time for us to deliberate over it.
Now that’s a super long introduction, ain’t it?
Today’s blog post is about the many interesting businesses and concepts in Malaysia. However, we’re narrowing the scope to you guessed it, Chinese Muslim businesses. Let’s start with the first one, shall we?
Go Online & The World Is Your Oyster
Sell your stuff on your dedicated website, social media channels, e-marketplaces or just among your network! When done right, this is by far the fastest and easiest way to get your products known. Though bear in mind that you need to be internet savvy and it’d be great if you’re equipped with the following skillsets: SEO writing, copywriting, graphics designing, video editing, photography, e-commerce.
Don’t have the skills? You could learn as you go along or you could hire people to do it for you. We took the road less travelled and learnt by ourselves. In fact, we’re still learning. Current favourite e-marketplaces are Shopee and Lazada.
Join Your Local Pasar Malam & Pasar Tani [Night Market & Farmer’s Market]
As far as we know, some pasar malam is run by the local authorities, private companies and NGOs. So at our place, the local authorities are the Johor Bahru City Council (Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru) and the Municipal Council of Bandaraya Iskandar Puteri (Majlis Bandaraya Iskandar Puteri). On the other hand, the pasar tani is run by FAMA (Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority) – a statutory body under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries.
Applying for the license is fairly easy. All you have to do is to submit the application form, along with supportive documents to the respective authority. Based on our findings, the fees for pasar malam and pasar tani run by local authorities are relatively inexpensive as compared to the ones run by private companies and NGOs.
Build A Physical Presence With Brick & Mortar
The traditional way of doing business. Not much explaining is needed. Once you’ve identified a suitable place to establish your food business, just sign the agreement and you’re good to go. Some places fetch a higher rental price, some places are more affordable. Some places have higher footfall, some places the footfall is pretty much non-existent. Commitments are high – rental costs, overhead costs, utilities costs etc. Hence, proper due-diligence is needed before you get into this.
One way of making sure you’re not going way too deep is to just start small at first. Rent a small unit, keep your costs low or at a minimum. Once you’re in a more established and comfortable position, you can begin to scale-up. Time to look for a better, bigger, yet still manageable place.
Fancy Food On Wheels? Get A Food Truck!
One of of our friends own food truck and we have to say we sometimes feel envious of him. Maybe it’s the whole childhood memory of running after the ice-cream truck. Maybe it’s the memory of buying snacks and tidbits from the Chinese uncle’s groceries-on-wheels truck. Memories aside, a food truck is the epitome of convenience. Everything is loaded in the truck and business starts the moment you park it at your designated place. Plus it helps in marketing too since you’re driving allover the place. People are bound to see your truck and your brand.
Would we ever get a food truck of our own? The answer is yes, but that’s purely our childhood memories speaking out loud. Our current business model is not catered for a food truck, but hey, things can change.
Events, Parties, The Works Pop-Up Stalls!
Most events would have food pop-up stalls and this is a super way to meet the crowd. What kind of events are we talking about? Concerts, exhibitions, weddings, sports days, marathons, school graduations, art festivals, cosplays, in short, if the event has the potential to bring in a crowd, it’s probably worth a second look. Better still to join events that bring in your targeted customers.
Examples of events we joined in the past were the Chinese New Year Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Since we’re selling Chinese Muslim food, it makes sense for us to join Chinese-related festivals to spread awareness about Chinese Muslim. We’ve also joined Ramadan events because our target customers also include Muslims who are looking for Chinese Muslim food.
That wraps up our blog post for today! Do you know of any other interesting Chinese Muslim businesses and concepts in Malaysia? Let us know in the comments section. Have a good day!